Entec provided sound, lighting and motion control as the celebrated Birmingham combo rocked Europe and the UK.

As 2020 got underway, Entec was pleased to extend its relationship with Editors as they prepared for their month-long Black Gold tour of Europe and the UK. The west London production rental firm provided audio control on all 20 dates, with its flagship d&b KSL line array and an overhead lighting and motion control package added as the tour reached the UK in late February.

Since Entec’s last activities with Editors, the band went through some key personnel changes including the appointment of Nick Ingram as production manager, while FOH engineer Adam Pendse stepped up to add tour management to his responsibilities.

Said Nick: “I’ve worked with Editors many times in the past. In fact, I was their first member of crew before they were signed and I mixed their FOH sound for eight and a half years, so having that relationship made it easy to slide back into a touring role for them. I was brought in literally a fortnight before the tour started in January and there was a lot to do in a very short time.

“My biggest concern was how best to deal with the itinerary because in some weeks we were playing to 1,000 people one day and 20,000 the next, so we had to specify equipment that could be scaled up and down accordingly.”

Coming only a few weeks since their last live performance, Editors and their crew began the year with their muscle memory still intact. After a brisk rehearsal day at Millennium Studios in Bedfordshire, the entourage travelled through Europe with a single truck production, comprising of backline, Entec’s audio control and a floor lighting package from Siyan, using house PA systems and overhead lights for most dates. For the three larger shows at Birmingham Arena, Wembley Arena and the O2 Apollo in Manchester, however, Nick explained that it made sense to ask Entec to supply a PA, overhead lighting and Kinesys automated hoists.

“For those three big UK shows, we were loading in a combination of systems that we had only ever seen in the form of drawings,” commented Nick. “Ever since I first met this band, they have always pushed the boundaries so while this was ambitious it was ultimately achievable because we were in the right hands, working with trusted professionals who made sure we were always ready for the show. Any nervousness I may have had was combatted by three absolutely fantastic shows that the audiences loved.

“When we needed extra crew for Wembley, Entec did everything to make it happen and being able to call just one number helped ease a difficult situation. Noreen [O’Riordan, MD], Adam [Stevenson, assistant lighting manager] and everyone played their part so well. I was particularly happy that pleased Dan Scantlebury [Entec’s head of sound] was involved, having known him for years. It’s genuinely helpful to know that he’s a sound engineer in his own right. He speaks our language.”

AUDIO PRESENCE

Having worked with Entec’s d&b J-Series on previous tours, FOH engineer and tour manager Adam Pendse was using the company’s new d&b KSL line array system for the first time. “The J-Series always had a great physical impact and while KSL has a similar presence, it sounds a lot more natural to me – whatever leaves your desk is what you hear through those speakers,” summarised Adam.

“It’s actually a very different product on many levels, not least because you are getting zero spill on to the stage from those speaker hangs. The combination of that and this band’s use of in-ear systems creates an idyllic scenario from an engineering perspective, because it’s easier to create mixes without any interfering elements.

“For the majority of the tour, we weren’t carrying PA at all; we played through a different house system every day. So when we got to the UK and we suddenly had this boost with KSL, it was a massive step up in quality. For me, it’s one of the top two PA systems in the world at this moment.”

Adam has continued to tour with his own unusual custom-built FOH mixing solution, using the Waves eMotion LV1 mixer and four monitor screens. He said: “I adopted this modular platform a few years ago and it still hasn’t become established in the industry, so at the moment it almost feels exclusive! Although it seems unconventional at first sight, it’s actually a very straightforward way of working and similar to mixing in ProTools or Logic, except it’s live. Instead of real faders, I’m running Windows 10, controlling everything via a touchscreen and arranging the screens so they give me the information I needed where I want it.”

Since the 2018 tour, when Adam was sharing an SD-Rack with monitor engineer Chris Barton, the FOH set-up has changed. The FOH engineer now has his own stage box which is set up around DiGiGrid IOXs with Entec’s fibre running between the Cisco switches at each end. “Having a completely redundant second LV1 rig that takes a MADI split from Chris’s DiGiCo SD10 means I have a security blanket that offers the most stable working situation.

“Maintaining the smallest possible footprint continues to be a standard with us and it’s to his credit that Entec’s [senior sound technician] Peter Eltringham came up with the brilliant idea of housing this complete rig within a single SD12 flight case, which has shrunk my footprint even further. I crack open the case and I’m ready to go.”

Chris Barton has been the band’s resident monitor engineer for five years and he rated his move in 2018 to an SD10 console as one of his better decisions. At the time, he claimed: “Its matrix option is excellent, offering a helpful solution for shout systems, because you can structure an extremely versatile network quite simply. Obviously, it’s good to use a desk that you can find anywhere in the world but it’s how it all plugs together and how easily any problems are handled that counts. That’s the human side of it, which Entec are very good at delivering.”

A wedge-free stage saw all five members of the band – lead singer, guitarist and pianist Tom Smith, bass player Russell Leetch, drummer Ed Lay, lead guitarist Justin Lockey and keyboard player Elliott Williams – on Sennheiser G3 wireless in-ear systems, with each of them receiving a stereo mix. With the frontman continuing to use his favoured Telefunken M80, the other microphone choices furnished by Entec also included Neumann KM184s, DPA d:vote 4099s for toms and snare drum, and DPA d:dicate ST4011A mics for cymbals.

Entec’s audio crew were system tech Alex Chapman, audio techs James Kerridge and Alex Goodby, and monitor tech Colin Woodward.

FINGERS IN FLIGHT

In the hot seat at FOH, Jordan Babev appeared very much at home in his second year as Editors’ lighting designer. A genuine fan of the band since their early days, he joined the crew in 2017 and the ‘Greatest Hits’-focused Black Gold tour gave him the opportunity to visually represent the Birmingham combo’s entire career journey.

“When I heard their first album [2005’s The Back Room], I was immediately impressed by the strong, industrial flavours coming out in their music. Approaching the design for this tour, I was inspired again by that imagery and featured rusted metal in the stage design, framing it with a more modern and dynamic approach to the lighting.”

Jordan’s first thought was to design a floor set upstage of the band, with lights beaming out from behind metal grilles that were painted to look oxidised. He then identified the need for a looming, almost threatening presence above the band, and settled on the idea of six truss fingers that would be moved slowly in a vertical plane on Kinesys motors within a range of nine metres, sometimes as low as 2.5m from the stage deck.

“Those fingers came so close to the band during the show; it been quite a shock at times although everything was perfectly safe,” said the LD, who was assisted in the UK by Entec’s crew chief Simon Chandler-Honnor and lighting technician Andrew Banks. “When they were in their lowest position, the stage became extremely narrow and wide like a letterbox – a strange but extremely effective look. One of my favourite moments in the show was when the truss fingers were moving constantly throughout the song ‘Eat Raw Meat’, looking like a slow-motion Mexican Wave.”

The overhead truss elements, their accompanying fixtures and motors formed the major portion of Entec’s package on the UK dates, with Outback Rigging taking the reins of the Kinesys automation. Each truss finger was rigged with Martin Atomic 3000 strobes, Claypaky HY B-EYE K25 wash lights, Martin MAC Vipers and molefay cells. At Wembley Arena, Entec added 10 Solaris Flare Q+ fixture to the mother grid to highlight the movement of the fingers.

“I was looking for something really powerful so I had way more strobes than I might normally use,” explained Jordan, a grandMA2 light user, for whom Entec supplied a back-up to his own console.

As well as the truss fingers, a vertical truss at each side of the stage carried a bank of additional HY K25 washes to illuminate a backdrop created by Jordan to display textures including concrete, brass and metal, that forged the impression of a dirty, corroded back wall. At the top of the truss holding the backdrop, a row of 15 GLP impression X4 Bar 20 battens offered tight, narrow beams that, together, resembled a theatrical light curtain.

When the UK leg climaxed at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom on March 3rd, more dates were to follow in Greece, the Ukraine and Russia but they,  along with numerous festivals including Glastonbury – where Editors were due to appear in June – fell victim to the escalating COVID-19 crisis.

“Everything was cancelled virtually overnight and, looking back, I can’t believe that we managed to get that tour in,” observed Nick Ingram. “We were travelling around Europe literally a week before the whole nightmare exploded so we were very, very lucky. We are, however, left with the satisfaction that this was one of one of the best tours Editors have ever done. The performances and reactions were sensational and we can’t wait to get back and do it again.”

https://www.editors-official.com

Photography by Joe Okpako • https://www.projoe.photography